shamanic.vision

One foot here, one foot there: A message to those who are confused by it all

An urban shaman living in western civilization faces a unique set of challenges. First,cloudspirits unlike shamans who work in tribal cultures with a long standing tradition and a deep, respectful connection to their community and their society at large, the western urban shaman is more often than not seen as either someone with a mental disorder or a charlatan out to make money by exploiting the faith of others. This last point I find exceedingly ironic, since the accepted religious leaders of the west (mostly of the Christian faith) represent the lion’s share of those exploiting the trust of others for personal profit and pleasure. From televangelists selling empty promises in exchange for opulent materialism to priests sexually abusing children, there is no shortage of exploitation going on.

Medical doctors, therapists and even armchair psychiatrists are all poised to “diagnose” the urban shaman’s spiritual experiences as one mental illness or another. If I say I interact with the spirit realms and form close relationships with spirit guides, they will tell me that is schizophrenia. Then many of those same people go to a church the next Sunday, pray to God and claim a close relationship with Jesus. They believe in angels guiding them and protecting them, and trust that God is there to smile upon their holy actions and punish those who are undeserving.

I cannot speak to the religious experiences of another. I cannot invalidate their claims because I do not “know their god”. Yet this is the struggle of a modern urban shaman in western society. To them, our spiritual experience is a mental illness. It is something we should be medicated for and endure therapy for in order to be cured. I see people on social media call upon their friends to pray for them if they become sick, or have an accident, or just need support. Very few, if any, of those people would turn to a shaman. Our spirituality is not part of the culture.

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An obligation is a strong duty. To every spirit, I have an obligation. To every person who comes to me in need, I have an obligation. To everyone I agree to help, I have an obligation. To myself…I have an obligation. While I have many obligations to all things, I want to focus at this moment on obligations to self:

  • It is my obligation to myself to enjoy my life and to learn about anything that interests me. 
  • It is my obligation to be true to myself and allow my thoughts and spirit to always remain free. 
  • It is my obligation to be steadfast when I want, to bend in the wind when I want, to be contrary when I want and to agree with everything I want. 
  • I am part of the planet, part of the spirit realm, part of the universe. I do not attempt to deny anyone the comforts they desire and this includes myself. My life as this person is short. To not live it to the fullest, to deny myself any experiences (some pleasurable, some sorrowful) is to squander a great gift. The world of physical perception is fleeting and it is my obligation to myself to live it without regret.

For me, my obligations are the tenets by which I live. They are all simple, common sense things really, like “do as little as I can to disturb nature when I hike and camp in the great forests”. They are always focused on being true to spirit as I know it. They are not always moral however.

I’m definitely not a new-age type guy. If something feels pretentious to me, I will discard it. If I think something is bullshit, I will call it like I see it. Later on, if I change my mind, I’ll do that, too. I’m carnal, primal and enjoy sensual pleasures without guilt. These are just examples of my own path.

A shaman doesn’t have to be all zen and emotionless. I’m not a spiritual guru sitting on the top of a mountain waiting for people to partake of my wisdom. Wisdom is a benefit of experience. Just experience as much as you can and you will have wisdom. Sometimes, we should be foolish, anyway. Learning by mistakes is a time honored tradition, too!

I can get angry, I can get sad, I can feel joy and rage and remorse. These are things I am here to experience. If I try and be “above all that” I’m simply denying myself the benefit of all that.

So, if you take only one thing from this, I hope it is that you choose to open yourself up fully to life’s experiences. This is, in my opinion, the most important obligation to ourselves we can make.

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